To protect the supply of tree fruit from food safety risks, it is important to assess and understand the risks of foodborne pathogen contamination at various points in the production chain. Knowledge gaps exist regarding the ability of current bin sanitation practices to reduce foodborne pathogen risk. <P>
The objective of this study is to evaluate current bin sanitation practices for reducing food safety risks in wood and plastic bins. An industry survey will be distributed and analyzed to examine current practices related to bin handling and sanitation. The survey will ensure inclusion of appropriate factors in the experimental design based on industry input and will assist in recruitment of additional project partners that encompass the breadth of industry practices. Overall microbial levels (aerobic plate counts, coliforms, generic E. coli) will be assessed in tree fruit storage bins before and after bin sanitation (wood and plastic, approximately 1,000). Factors that will be included in the experimental design include at least three different bin sanitation methods and bin age; other factors may be included based on survey results. The ability of current industry sanitation practices to control microbial risks associated with wood and plastic bins will be examined. Hard-to-clean surfaces, such as feet and damaged surfaces, will be examined as part of the sampling regime. A comparison of the ability to sanitize wood and plastic bins will be examined along with the influence of bin age on sanitation for wood and plastic bins. <P>
Project impacts include 1) assessment of sanitation practices to reduce microbial food safety risks in tree fruit storage bins, and 2) clarification of the influence of bin material (wood and plastic) and bin age on food safety risks.